Outlying Communities Offer Untapped Tourism Opportunities
By Azucena Cabrera
On September 27, in celebration of International Tourism Day, the Municipality of San Miguel de Allende and the Technological University of San Miguel Allende (UTSMA) hosted an event focusing on tourism and community development in Parque Juárez.
Inspired by San Miguel’s booming tourism industry, students and teachers of the UTSMA identified opportunities to increase tourism in communities outside of San Miguel proper. Together, students, and teachers met with residents and visited more than 30 communities around San Miguel, discovering that an untapped resource resided in the incredible diversity of festivals, local artisans, food, and natural beauty of these historic villages.
During the event, students and community leaders representing 30 communities showcased displays exhibiting the artistry, traditions, and history that make each of their villages unique tourist destinations. Each stand was beautifully decorated by local students, who gave presentations and provided examples of everything from artisan craft goods, such as embroidery and cantera carving, to mouthwatering moles, and one-of-a-kind candies. Entrepreneurial students also mapped out hiking trails leading to historic haciendas and breathtaking views of the countryside, offering their services as tour guides.
In addition to the event in Parque Juárez, a series of discussion panels was held at Sierra Nevada del Parque, in which students, producers, and community leaders came together to discuss topics related to gastronomy and tourism with a focus on community economic development. Two members of Vía Orgánica were invited to sit on the panel focused on increasing opportunities for community tourism. Panel members discussed the importance of training, outreach, and support in facilitating local youth dedicated to improving their local economies and sharing the wealth of natural and cultural resources their communities offer.
By providing a stage for so many passionate students and community leaders to come together and discuss an alternative tourism industry in San Miguel, the event put on by UTSMA was a successful first step towards unlocking future opportunities for the communities of San Miguel de Allende.
Azucena Cabrera oversees organic production and education at the Vía Orgánica Ecological Ranch.